Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Cola Wars... Diet Pepsi

For the first part of this series on soda advertising, click here!

In the Western world, diet soda advertising is targeted almost exclusively to women because it is assumed that being concerned about calories is a feminine trait. Perhaps the most well-known example from America is this Diet Coke ad in which all the ladies in an office gather around to watch a construction worker take his shirt off and drink a Diet Coke. Even though the ladies aren't drinking the Diet Coke, they are still the main focus of the ad.


When Pepsi tapped John Abraham to be the first brand ambassador for Diet Pepsi in India, they must have thinking somewhat along those lines. (I mean, who is hunkier than John?) But unlike the nameless construction worker, the main focus of the Diet Pepsi ads... is John.

For example, in this ad, the viewer is supposed to identify with having ladies grab at your butt, not the ladies doing the grabbing. If anything, there is something coded homoerotic in the idea: Drink Diet Pepsi - Have Your Butt Grabbed.

This one is a more traditional Diet Pepsi ad, sending the message that Diet Pepsi will bring you sexy romantic encounters with John Abraham. The "Go Play" slogan was tied into a women-targeted message related to health and working out. Women were supposed to want to go Play with

Considering we haven't heard much from Diet Pepsi* recently, I don't think the message was very effective and John was moved back to regular Pepsi advertisements.

When Pepsi launched their 'slim' cans in the US, a feminist media hubbub erupted over the positioning of 'slim' with 'desirable.' In India, the 'slim can' was launched as the 'My Can' - as in, it fits in 'my' hand.

The slim aspect isn't emphasized nor is there any association with women or beauty...

* It seems Indians don't care for diet foods and the newly launched Pepsi Max - which was essentially Diet Pepsi with new branding aimed at MAXIMUM TYPE dudes - tanked, too.

1 comment:

Mette said...

Interesting post... funny, how the focus of the ads shift. I don't drink Diet Coke, or any other diet drink, I mean if you want some Coke, get a real one instead of making your body believe it gets sugar even though it doesn't. Otherwise, don't drink coke.

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